The Autogyro is an aircraft that is also known as a gyrocopter, gyroplane, or windmill plane. It was the first rotary wing aircraft to fly successfully with sufficient control.
The autogyro was invented in Spain by don Juan de la Cierva.The first controlled flight occurred on January 17, 1923. Cierva was influenced by the Wright Brothers' plane design but wanted to create a plane that flew better at low speeds. He developed the idea of an autogyro while tossing a toy helicopter from the balcony of his parents home and observing its flight. The autogyro that successfully flew in 1923 was Cierva's fourth design. His first three autogyro designs failed because of a rigid rotor which caused the aircraft to tilt and provided an unbalanced lift. Cierva envisioned the autogyro as a way to eliminate the major problems of aircraft safety and viewed his invention as a way to replace the conventional aircraft.
Later on in the 1930's and 1940's. Autogyros were used as mail carriers for the U.S. Postal Services as they took mail from the post office rooftops in Chicago, Il, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Pa, New Orleans, La, and other cities.
Autogyros are unique because they have the ability to vertically take-off and land. While the helicoptor does not need any alterations to do this, the autogyro had to be modified, as will be discussed later. Autogyros are not suitable for high speeds or long distance, though. The autogyro has a propeller like an airplane to move it forward, and a rotor like the one on a helicopter to give it the lift needed to move in a vertical direction. A benefit of the autogyro is that when it experiences engine failure the passengers and plane are still safe. This is possible because the procedure for landing an autogyro after an engine stalls is the same procedure that autogyro pilots use in normal conditions, and the aircraft will slowly descend until it lands.